We are one week into 2021, and I hope it's going well for you and your family. It is tempting to make a new year's resolution. However, most of us aim too high and have difficulty following through, so I try to avoid the major-life changing type of resolutions and set quarterly SMART goals. If you are a Notion user, I created a template you can duplicate. One of my small challenges is to write every day for at least 10 minutes. A bigger goal is to publish useful information in this weekly newsletter. It will take a while to find my voice and gain more focus on the primary topic. If you have feedback or suggestions, please let me know.
This past week I spent time setting up a couple of Ghost sites on Digital Ocean 🎁 and applied theme modifications. If I keep with this type of side project, I will need to automate more of the tasks. Often, a simple shell script goes a long way to save time. More importantly, you end up with a repeatable process, which means you can then stamp out multiple things and be confident that the configuration is consistent. Of course, there are usually exceptions, leading to some variables and variances. Life is about exception handling!
OpenAI announces DALL-E
We often hear about the advances made in artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI/ML news is no longer just for academics. Articles are published daily in the popular press and news reports.
DALL-e takes text (your text), and the ML model generates an image of your description. The model has Billion parameters, and the output shared on the OpenAI blog post is outstanding.
App of the week
Drops is my app of the week. Drops teaches you a new language in 15 minutes a day and has a unique and fun way to introduce vocabulary. I'm on day eight of a 90-day challenge learning a bit of Cantonese. Cantonese is a difficult language for native English speakers. There are nine tones, and if your pronunciation isn't 100% correct, the meaning will be completely different. More than twenty years ago, when I lived in Vancouver, I took an in-person Cantonese class. I did poorly, even though the instructor was excellent. Using this app seems to suit my learning style much better. Right now, they have 34 languages to learn.
I like Drops for the clean, beautiful, simple interface. Also, I enjoy Drops for a variety of lesson types. In my case, this includes learning Chinese characters too. I am sure out in the wild I wouldn't be able to recognize many characters, but, within the app, given 2-4 choices, my brain is developing pattern recognition, and somehow I know the characters for raspberry are 覆盆子. Please don't ask me to draw them though 🖋
Podcast episode of the week
Donald Knuth is a legend in computer science. He may be best known as the author of The Art of Computer Programming. He has completed the first four volumes, with another four volumes in-work or planned. Professor Knuth is an octogenarian who continues to contribute and share his knowledge with students and academics. Stanford online has published 111 Knuth lectures and 22 of his Annual Christmas Addresses.
I think it's essential to have some historical context of the field of study that interests you. It provides knowledge and motivational stories that help you communicate better with people outside your interest area. There is always more to a person than we think, often with great surprises! The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) podcast spoke with Professor Knuth on June 2, 2020.
In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan is joined by 1974 ACM A.M. Turing Laureate Donald Knuth, author of the hugely popular textbook series, "The Art of Computer Programming." They discuss what led him to discover his love of computing as well as writing about computer programming, his outlook on how people learn technical skills, how his mentorship has helped him write “human oriented” programs, the problems he is still working to solve, and how his dissatisfaction with early digital typesetting led him to develop TeX, as well as his interest in playing and composing music for the pipe organ.
Tips and Tricks
Have you ever taken a photo with your iPhone with the intent of using that image on your Mac, perhaps to upload it into a blog post? But, when you open the Mac Photos app, your new pictures haven't synced yet. For Apple users, we expect things to "just work." If you Google "how to force sync Photos," you will find many people asking how to do it and a lot of answers saying you can't. There is one way to log out of iCloud and log back in, but that's not reasonable.
AirDrop comes to the rescue! From the Photos app you can use the share button and then AirDrop to the second device.
Note: Both devices must have Bluetooth turned on and be on the same Wi-Fi network for this to work.
Have a wonderful weekend and a productive week ahead. Thank you!
Be seeing you!